The Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces is willing to negotiate under U.S. and Russian auspices a peace deal in Syria exclusive of President Bashar al-Assad and his enforcers.
The announcement came in a statement posted on the National Coalition's Facebook page following two-day meetings in Cairo of the group’s 70-member assembly meant to set “the framework for a political settlement.”
Today's announcement appears meant to bury Coalition leader Moaz al-Khatib’s “personal initiative” earlier this month in which he made a “personal” but conditional offer of talks with Assad representatives.
The Coalition, formed with Western and Arab backing last November, has a "collegiate" leadership, and al-Khatib is a first among equals, rather than outright head.
Following is my translation of the Coalition’s statement in full:
At its February 21 meetings in Cairo, and in light of revolutionary achievements on the ground, the Syrian National Coalition of Revolutionary and Opposition Forces believes the parameters for a political solution liable to achieve the revolution’s objectives and bloodshed, bring stability and safeguard state institutions must be based on the following:
- Fulfill the quest of the Syrian people’s revolution for justice, freedom and dignity and spare the Syrians’ blood and the country further ruin, devastation and threats. It must also safeguard Syria’s territorial, political and territorial integrity, making possible the transition to a democratic civil and pluralistic regime where all Syrians enjoy gender, religion and belief, sect, race and ethnicity equality.
- Bashar al-Assad and the security-military leadership responsible for the state of Syria today must step down and be considered outside this political process. They cannot be part of any political solution in Syria and must be held accountable for their crimes.
- The political solution and our country’s coveted future concerns all Syrians, including the honorable people in state institutions, Baathists and other political, civil and social forces that were not involved in crimes against the Syrian people.
- Any initiative based on these parameters must have a specific timeline and a clear and avowed objective.
- Any initiative also requires UN Security Council guarantees, chiefly from Russia and the United States of America, proper sponsorship and adequate safeguards to make the process possible via a binding UN Security Council resolution.
- Continued support of the revolutionaries on the ground so they can change the balance of forces there.
- Keep lobbying our friends and brethren for a political solution based on the aforesaid parameters.
- The National Coalition’s Assembly is the sole body authorized to put forward any political initiative in the Coalition’s name.